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Shami Kababs from India | Delicious kababs with beef and split chickpeas

Shami Kababs are one of my favorite kababs to go with Biryani or just on any given day so I am still mourning the loss of these kababs from Saturday night's dinner.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE  a good dinner party with good friends but I belong to the group of women who can't ever taste the food at our own party and only truly relishall we've cooked only after everyone has left - preferably barefoot, with my feet curled up on the couch and hopefully in my favorite flannels. Alas, that was not to empty platter was all that was left for me! I can write many a verse in elaborate description of just how good these little meat morsels turn out and why these should be on the appetizer list for a truly special dinner event but I think our friend Terry described it best, "I couldn't believe the kabobs and was relieved that I restrained myself from trying to take another and put it in my pocket to savor the unique flavor yet again:)".

Now, if a humble kabab can reduce a decent, lovely woman to kleptomania, you have to ask yourself, just how good were those doggone things?

So the only decent thing left for me to do is to leave you with the knowledge to fix these yourself!



Recipe for

Shami Kababs

Serves 4-6

Shopping list:

2 lbs ground beef

1- 1/2 cups channa dal  (to get 2 cups soaked) 1-1/2"fresh ginger root

3 large black cardamom 14 cloves

1/2 tsp black peppercorns

4 dried red chilly

1-1/2" cinnamon bark 2 tsp cumin seeds

1-1/2 tsp garam masala powder 1-1/2 tsp turmeric powder 

6 garlic cloves 1 small onion 1 tbs salt

4 tbs oil

3 tbs ghee for pan-frying 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves


Channa Dal - To begin with soak the split chick peas overnight. Drain away the water a using a sieve. Measure 2 cups of the soaked channa dal. 

Onion - Peel & roughly chop the onion.

Garlic - Peel the garlic cloves.

Ginger - Peel the ginger.

Green onions - Discard root tip. Cut into 2" lengths including the green stalks

Cilantro leaves - Finely chop and set aside in a bowl of water to prevent browning.


On medium heat, heat vegetable oil in a sauté pan. Add the whole spices - cumin seeds, whole dried red chilies, cardamom pods, cloves & cinnamon bark. As soon as the cumin seeds crackle, add the roughly chopped garlic and ginger.

Sauté for a couple of minutes. As soon as the garlic shows signs of slightly browning at the edges, add the ground meat. Sauté till the meat is no longer pink and has released all its liquid.

To the meat add the onions, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and green onions.

Sauté the meat and spices till all the liquid is dried up and only the fat remains in the bottom of the pan.

Add the soaked channa dal to the meat. Stir. Add 2-1/2 cups of water and bring to simmer.

Place a tight fitting lid on the pan and on low heat cook for about 1-1/2 hours until the channa dal is completely soft. Stir regularly to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the large black cardamom's and the dried red chilies depending on your tolerance for heat. If you do not want it spicy retain only one chilly in the meat discarding the others.

Increase to medium heat and continue to sauté the meat until ALL the liquid has dried up.

Continue to sauté until there is NO moisture in the meat at all. The meat should now begin to stick at the bottom of the pan.

Cook's Tip: This is a critical step. If the kababs break in the pan it will be be due to the fact that the meat has liquid. So the successful making of the kababs depends on this step.

Place the meat in a food processor and grind with NO liquid added till completely fine. It will almost resemble flour. All the spices etc. must be completely fine. Use the pulse button a few times if needed.

Add finely chopped cilantro leaves and thoroughly mix with clean hands. In a clean bowl, beat 3 eggs with a whisk until completely blended. Set aside.

Pull a chunk on meat in your hands and roll to form 1-1/2" meatballs. Flatter to form 1/2" thick discs. Set aside.

Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat. Add ghee and heat for about 2 minutes till hot but not smoking.

Dip each one of the meat patties into the beaten egg and place in the pan.

Fry for about a minute or so on each side and then pan fry on the other side till golden brown on both sides.




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